Dawn at Urdukas Camp looking over the glacial lake wit the Trango Towers and Ulli Biaho in the background. Photo © Ahsan Iqbal 2010

Now we are in Urdukas set up high in the hills away from the shifting sands. Two very large glacial pools have formed since last season, and have engulfed the original trail. Another route has been improvised over the rocky landscape (on our return trip, this new trail will also have disappeared.) The sight out the front door of my tent is truly a sight to behold. Trango Towers slip in and out of a mysterious cloud cover that shrouds everything in a bit of secrecy – leaving the most brilliant views only for those who are vigilant enough to keep and eye on the sky. A giant behemoth of rock is thrust up directly in front of me and flanked by two glaciers, which spill into the Baltoro. The mountainside behind us is rocky and green, giving the donkeys and ponies a well-deserved grazing ground before setting off again tomorrow.

The pulpit rock with some of our porters. Photo © Ahsan Iqbal 2010

When surrounded by sights so magnificent, it is oftentimes hard to scale things down and look and listen to the sight and sounds right in front of you. Six porters are perched on the boulder that overlooks the glacier, wearing varying shades of brown and gray shalwar camis. The color is not so dependent on the color of fabric as much as it is on the number of days since they have been washed. They squat in traditional Pakistani fashion – back on their haunches.

In the twilight air they smoke cigarettes and chat amicably in their local Balti tongue and let their fading jackets hang over slumping, yet proud shoulders. One is singing. There was quite a lot of singing today. Four of the others now join in song and their voices echo through camp.

Porters watching the sun go down. Photo © Ahsan Iqbal 2010